Everyone hates job interviews. They can be stressful, require a lot of preparation, and often result in frustration when we get rejected. But it doesn’t mean that job interviews are your enemy. You should take them as a learning curve and embrace them on a positive note.
I’ve been hiring junior marketers for over 5 years and some easy-to-fix mistakes keep repeating. Every job interview requires preparation. Don’t think that if you nailed the initial CV stage, the verbal interview will be just a formality.
On the contrary, as a marketing manager, I notice that brilliant CVs tend to fail the interviews, and those having mediocre CVs (often with no prior experience, for example) frequently bring a lot of positive surprises and get hired.
I love marketing because there is no single answer or approach to achieve results. That’s why candidates, even having no prior experience or even formal education in marketing, can be highly qualified for the job.
My strategy is to interview as many candidates as possible. I know that I cannot solely rely on a CV when hiring and I want to give an opportunity to everyone to come and have a chat with me.
In this article, I’d like to share some tips with new marketers. Maybe you have just graduated from the university and are looking for your first marketing job. Or maybe you are changing your career path and wish to work in marketing?
Here I would like to share some tips that will help you in a marketing job interview for an entry position. Read until the end where I’ll share some of my favorite questions.
Research the company before coming to an interview
I met multiple candidates who didn’t properly research the company. I’m not looking for company history or you to know perfectly what we do, but certain information is a necessity.
Some people are very frank and say that they don’t know what the company does. While this isn’t bad, it’s not good either. It makes me question why you chose to apply for this position. I’m not looking for people who simply respond to all job ads. I want someone who has at least a slight interest in the company or industry because I don’t want to hire someone who’ll realize they aren’t interested and leave a couple of months after.
You should also be familiar with the basic industry terminology. For example, if a company that you’re applying for “provides payment solutions to online businesses”, you should know what that means. I frequently hear people oversimplifying. They would say “oh yes, you do this payment thingie, right?”. This isn’t right.
If you are asked whether you heard about the brand before, be honest. Don’t simply jump into “Oh yeah, I have heard a lot.”, if you never heard of it before you discovered the job ad. It is OK to say “No, I haven’t heard of the brand, but I was excited to research about the company after finding out about this job opportunity.”
Analyzing the company’s corporate website and social media presence is also a great way to prove that you’ve done your research. You should mention if there is something you particularly think works in what the company does. Don’t be afraid to also mention what you’d do differently. However, be modest in the critique. Not all managers take it well.
An interview is a dialogue
Don’t shy off. Most marketing managers will look for people who are capable of voicing out their opinion, who are easy-going, and communicative in the interview. As marketers, we have to work closely with other departments (sales, CEO, operations, etc.), and therefore candidate’s ability to communicate is very important.
The interview is a perfect place to show your outstanding personality and communication skills. Don’t simply answer the questions that you were asked. In this case, it feels robotic, unnatural, and like an interrogation. Instead, you are allowed to ask questions in return.
For example, if your interviewer asks “What do you think are the most successful marketing strategies in our industry?”, don’t be afraid to finish your answer with a question. You can ask “From your experience, is social media still a powerful tool to generate new sales leads?”.
I love when I can have a dialogue with my candidates. It proves that they are thinking individuals who are genuinely interested in the job and that they can think outside the box.
Marketing is a very versatile role. Depending on the company, you may be required to represent the brand in the events, have speaking engagements, and network. Therefore, good communication skills are very important and I always take that into account.
Show positive attitude to learning
You may have the most outstanding credentials, vast experience, and great university results, but if your attitude is bad, sorry, you won’t get the job. It’s true for many employers. We want to hire someone who we’ll enjoy working with.
That’s why don’t be afraid that you may not know something. It’s normal and you’ll be able to learn a lot during your career. In fact, every day is about learning. You have to show that you are open to it.
Your attitude to work and potential tasks should also be positive. It’s important to show that you want to learn, you are willing to work in a team, but can also work independently, that you don’t shy off tedious and dull tasks.
I seldom hire people for their qualifications, I pay particular attention to candidate’s attitude. Skills and qualifications can be gained, but it’s very hard to change someone’s attitude.
That’s why — be positive, natural, smile, and be approachable.
Always ask at least one good question
Most interviews end with “Do you have any questions for us?” and you must have at least one question. Having no questions signals to me that a candidate is either shy to ask, or is not particularly interested in the job. We spent at least 30 minutes, there must be something you want to know.
Don’t ask questions related to your salary, bonuses, annual leave, allowances, or anything that’s not relevant. These questions are OK to ask if you’re invited for the second interview or given an employment offer.
This is the best time to learn even more about the company. I would suggest choosing from:
Everyone looks so young in the office, what’s the average age of the staff here?
What are the company values?
What are the skills that a perfect candidate for this position should have?
What is the team structure? Would I be reporting to you or someone else?
What is the long-term marketing strategy for the company?
Pay attention to the answers, because if you’re going to get an employment offer, they will help to decide if this company is what you’re looking for. Normally, people are looking for long-term employment (at least 2–3 years) and if the answers don’t satisfy you, it’s better to reject the offer.
Some of my favorite interview questions I’d ask
What do you know about the company?
According to you, what is important to become a marketer?
What do you like about marketing?
Marketing is very broad. Which marketing fields are the most interesting for you?
Why did you choose marketing as your career choice?
What are some of the real-life examples of good marketing?
What is bad marketing to you?
How important is social media to you? Will it, one day, replace Google as a search engine?
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years should you be given the opportunity to join the company?
Don’t get discouraged
Most importantly, if you face rejection, don’t give up. There are millions of companies and millions of candidates. It’s natural that some are a better fit than others.
If you get rejected, try to find the reasons for it. Reflect back on your interview and see what you could have done differently. Treat interviews are practice, pay particular attention to the questions asked, and aspire to improve your answers. You’ll get better and better over time.
Remember that it’s really hard to hire someone. As an employer, we are looking into multiple factors — we want your employment to be a positive experience for you and we want to set you for success, not a failure.
When I make my hiring decision, I look at the overall profile of the candidate. I try to imagine them working for the company, guessing if they would fit in, whether they’d be a good addition to the existing team and how would a new joiner change the dynamics of the existing team.
Good luck with your job hunt! I’m sure you’ll get that dream job of yours soon!